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PYONGTAEK, South Korea — Stealth fighter-bombers that have deployed to South Korea for several months of training will operate out of Kunsan Air Base, U.S. Forces Korea disclosed Tuesday.

The Air Force has deployed about 15 F-117A Nighthawk stealth aircraft and about 250 airmen to South Korea from the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., according to a USFK news release issued Tuesday.

The aircraft arrived in South Korea last week for what the release called a routine Air Expeditionary Forces rotation.

In May, the 49th Fighter Wing said the deployment was part of ongoing steps to present a credible “deterrent posture” in the region and that the aircraft would stay in South Korea for four months or “as long as needed to meet continuing force posture adjustments.”

The deployment will give Nighthawk pilots and crews an opportunity to train beside F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, the USFK release stated. It will give them experience in carrying out operations while deployed and in varied weather conditions. It also will test the unit’s ability to move its people and equipment, according to the release.

The deployment is the third by aircraft and personnel from Holloman to Kunsan since 2003.

In summer 2004, the 49th Fighter Wing sent a Nighthawk Squadron to Kunsan Air Base for several months. In 2003, Nighthawks were part of a major annual military exercise in South Korea, then stayed on the peninsula for what USFK said was “additional training.”

Kunsan Air Base, along South Korea’s western seacoast, is home to the 8th Fighter Wing, known as the Wolf Pack. Its squadrons include two F-16 fighter units, the 35th Fighter Squadron and the 80th Fighter Squadron.

The F-117A is a single-seat attack plane used widely in Operation Iraqi Freedom. With high-tech design features that make it hard for radar to pick up, it can penetrate deep into enemy airspace. The warplane can place satellite and laser-guided munitions onto time-sensitive, high-value targets.


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